Phishing is when scam artists send text, email, or pop-up messages to get people to share their personal and financial information. Then they use the information to commit identity theft.
Here's how you — and your kids — can avoid a phishing scam:
- Don't reply to text, email, or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't click any links in the message. Resist the urge to cut and paste a link from the message into your web browser, too. If you want to check a financial account, for example, type in the web address from your billing statement.
- Don't give personal information on the phone in response to a text message. Some scammers send text messages that appear to be from a legitimate business, and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." If you give them your information, they use it to run up charges in your name.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. Unexpected files may contain viruses or spyware that the sender doesn't even know are there.
- Use security software, and update it regularly.
- Read your mail; review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you get them to check for unauthorized charges.
- Forward phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org — and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. You also may want to report phishing email to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com.
- Get your kids involved in these activities, too, so they can develop good internet security habits. Look for "teachable moments" — if you get a phishing message, show it to your kids to help them understand that messages on the internet aren't always what they seem.